There are two parallel hydraulic gates within a permanent cill wall located at the entrance to the inner harbour. This means that water is retained at half-tide level, providing depths of between 1.2 and 2.4 metres within the inner harbour. The cill gates provide a navigable entrance width of 11.6 metres and operate to provide access to the inner harbour from approximately 3.5 hours before, to 3 hours after high tide. When the cill gates are lowered at half tide, the minimum depth through the entrance is 2.2 metres.
The bridge always remains closed when the cill gates are in the raised position. However, once the cill gates are lowered, the bridge may be opened for any vessel that cannot safely navigate under the bridge. An audible alarm and flashing orange lights warn pedestrians that the bridge is operational and a traffic light system provides bridge and cill status to waiting mariners.
Requests for the bridge to be opened should be made to "Torquay Harbour" via VHF Radio channel 14 or 01803 292429.
Harbour traffic control signals located on both sides of the bridge/cill will indicate the following instructions:
Signal: Three red lights fixed and exhibited vertically
Action: Vessels shall not proceed - Cill Gates raised and/or Bridge operating.
Signal: Two green lights over one white fixed and exhibited vertically
Action: Vessels may proceed - Cill Gates lowered, two way traffic is subject to air-draft (headroom) restrictions. Bridge lifted on request.
For reasons of safety, all mariners should exercise caution when navigating under a lowered bridge and be aware of the available ‘headroom/air-draft’. Please do not attempt to navigate under the bridge to either side of the cill. Mariners should proceed with extreme caution and abort any passage through when red lights are exhibited. Mariners should keep a sharp lookout for vessels entering or exiting the inner harbour, especially Passenger Craft and any vessels manoeuvring on or off Torquay Marina. The 5-knot speed limit should be observed at all times and wash should be kept to a minimum. Mariners must not loiter in the immediate vicinity of the bridge or the approaches.
The operating hours, subject to tide, will be as follows:
Note: The cill gates will be raised outside of these times. If you require the Cill and/or Bridge to be operated outside these hours then please contact the Harbour Office giving sufficient notice and we will make the necessary arrangements.
There is a courtesy waiting pontoon situated on the seaward side of the cill with access to South Pier. This is strictly for vessels waiting for the cill/bridge to operate to access the inner harbour. Vessels may also wait at Haldon Pier.